Thursday, April 16, 2009

Strengths Advocate Training - Gallup University Omaha - Day Three...

Today wrapped up Strengths Advocate training here in Omaha. Today centred on strength coaching and ways to get others (and us) to better understand strengths, to begin to see some tendencies with strengths (although everyone is different, so tendencies should never carry too much weight), and start to think about next steps.

The biggest next step for me is that the training we have had this week is just the beginning - we need to keep the strengths-based conversations going and to have people share their accomplishments and what they have done.One way to do that is through Winner cards, a tangible artifact of a strengths conversation, particularly useful for talking strengths and performance.

took a look at the resources available for strengths and some of teh worshops and sessions that as an advovate I can now deliver to my colleagues - really looking forward to that opportunity.

We reviewed some other ways of looking at strengths keeping in mind that the outcomes need to always be kept in mind. One way to look at strengths is that they relate to:
  • Strive
  • Think
  • Relate
Most of my signature themes are in the Think domain, with some in the other two - another way of looking at thngs. Strengths can also be looked at as how they rekate to time:
  • Past
  • Present
  • Future
Some strengths rely on the past - information, experiences etc., some rely on the here and now, and some are future looking.

Finally strengths can be looked at as either being Initiators or Relators - all of these different ways of looking at strengths may help people take them on board and that is the key - developing a strengths language and culture in your institution that makes sense.

A lot of information over the last three days to take in and distill. My Input and Intellection themes will be working overtime the next few days as I assimilate what I have learned and my Responsibility theme will ensure that I will be posting about it here. I'm also going to go back and talk to the other strengths advocates at my College and start the conversation about developing an advocate network so we can be getting out our institution's message on strengts (my Achiever, Developer, and Contextthemes in action...). Hmmm...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Strengths Advocate Training - Gallup University Omaha - Day Two...

Day Two began with a discussion of the four domains of strengths leadership. These domains are:
  1. Executing
  2. Influencing
  3. Relationship Building
  4. Strategic Thinking
My signature themes lie mostly in the Executing and Strategic Thinking domains, which fits with who I and many others think I am. I picked up a copy of Gallups's latest strengths book "Strengths Based Leadership", which describes the domains in detail and contains a code to take a leadership-focussed Strengths inventory (which I will do shortly).

We talked more about strengths coaching and how to ensure that any discussion around strengths needs to be in context - strengths need to be discussed in context or they are not relevent to the individual or team. Several of the exrecises and activities developed by Gallup were reviewed as a way of presenting strengths in context so that meaningful strengths conversations can be held.

We then took turns presenting our strengths implementation plans (yesterday's homework) - in our case we talked about how to best introduce strengths and employee success to our colleagues on the campus.

We then wrapped up the day with an amazing discussion with Shane Lopez, Gallup's senior scientist in residence about some of the latest research being conducted at Gallup around strengths - an incredible comnverstaion. They have developed principles of strength-based education that provide a framework and introduction to strengths.

The day focussed on coaching and the use of strengths - how to help others understand their themes and what they mean - tips, hints, and exercises to assist in the implementation of strengths. All in all a very interesting day. My head is full of ideas about how to engage in strengths conversations with my colleagues (there's that Intellection strength coming through again). Hmmm...

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Strengths Advocate Training - Gallup University Omaha - Day One...

The first day of Strengths Advocate training at Gallup University happened today in a sunny and warm (64F) Omaha. we spent most of the day reviewing in depth the 34 strength themes that make up the strengths process.

One of the interesting things that came out of the day was that while two people might have the same strength, it is different based on the other strengths they have and the items in the inventory that identifies that strength. Two people can have the same themes and be completely different - and that is not only OK, but perfectly natural.

It was interesting to see all 34 themes – it is revealing :-).

My top 10 strengths themes are:
  1. Learner
  2. Intellection
  3. Input
  4. Achiever
  5. responsibility
  6. Arranger
  7. Activator
  8. Relator
  9. Developer
  10. Context
And my bottom 5 are:
  1. Empathy
  2. Maximizer
  3. Competition
  4. WOO
  5. Individualization
All in all a pretty accurate description of who I am (for those of you who know me, what do yiu think?). The best part of the day was this afternoon when we had one on one strengths coaching sessions – lasted over an hour, going over all 34 of the themes – the facilitator was excellent, describing me accurately just from my strengths! It was quite impressive and an amazing discussion. She felt that some people find me intimidating because of my intellectual capacity and approach, my need to be learning and acquiring information, and all the thinking I do (I hope that isn’t true - the intimidating part, not the thinking part). We both agreed that I spend a lot of time in my own head thinking – and that saying “NO!“ is a difficult thing for me to do (but I am trying to learn, so just say NO!!). It may explain my overly long blog posts, among other things. Hmmm...

Strengths Advocate Training - Gallup University Omaha - Relax Day...

A quiet, relaxing day in Omaha today - Strengths Advocate training begins in earnest tomorrow morning. Today was a day to get caught up from yesterday's travel, and to get ready for the rest of the week.

Lots to see and do in Omaha, and we toured about the Old Market today - lots of shops and restaurants, lofts, and other funky emporiums - a very neat way to revitalize and maintain a city core.

Now it's off to Strengths Advocate training. It will be interesting to see what order all of my strengths are in (34 in total and for now I know my top five - Learner, Intellection, Input, Achiever, and Responsibility). I wonder which of my 34 strengths comes last? Hmmm...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Strengths Advocate Training - Gallup University Omaha - Travel Day...

Greetings from Omaha!! Today was your basic 12 hour travel day from Halifax to Omaha (ever notice how no matter how far you have to travel by air, it always seems to be at least a 12 hour travel day? Hmmm...).

Left Halifax this morning in fog and drizzle - arrived at OHare in Chicago in sunshine and 50 F - about the same here in Omaha (well it's night now, but you get the idea). My Lounge access card was denied in Chicago (thank you United and Air Canada), the same card I have used to access the lounge for years (I'll be sorting that out before the return trip). So it was a poor Boingo paid for wireless access in the terminal that wouldn't let me access anything Google or Facebook (hard to type when rocking back and forth in the fetal position muttering "it won't connect!, it won't connect!). Also my first trip to the USA with my new iPhone and I'm singularly umimpressed with the AT&T service - 3G wouldn't let me connect to either GMail or my college e-mail, something I never have an issue with at home - the iPhone experiment continues...

Arrived early in Omaha and am now firmly ensconced in the Embassy Suites Downtown/Old Market. Strengths Advocate training begins Tuesday - tomorrow is decompress and acclimatize day maybe a trip to the zoo to see Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (I can hear Marlin Perkins telling us what danger Jim is in - Jim just never learned... :-)). The Old Market District here in Omaha is very eclectic too (for those of you home think Historic properties but much bigger and less Maritime and with lots of funky stores and entertainment). Hmmm...

(Picture from Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Strengths Advocate Training - Gallup University Omaha

I'm off later today to spend next week at Gallup University in Omaha Nebraska to take part in Strengths Advocate training. We are using Strengths as part of our Employee Success Plannig process - later this year we will be rolling it out to our faculty and staff.

The Strengths Advocate training will give me a more in depth understanding of the Strengths process and will allow me to facilitate strengths training on my campus. I'm really looking forward to a busy and enjoyable week - it's great to be a learner again!

I'll be blogging the week and Twittering too (hondomac if you want to follow along). So it's off to the airport I go...

(Picture - StrengthsQuest Home)

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Who Needs 140 Characters? Less IS More

Some people I know feel restricted by Twitter's 140 character limit, others not so much - I'm in the former category, but I am getting better at being brief. In that spirit of new found brevity - I give give you Flutter!

Too funny - enjoy!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Blog or Twitter? Twit or Blogger? Will Ever the Twain Shall Meet? Hmmm...

I've been blogging now for over three years and I really like doing it - it gives me an outlet to say what's on my mind - literally the things that make me go Hmmm... But there is a new sheriff in town and that sheriff is Twitter.

I've been twittering (tweeting? the language is so cool :-)) for well over a year now, but until recently it's mostly been "Home after work", "it's raining out", "off to do laundry" - after all, the primary question that Twitter asks is "What are you doing?". But in the past few months I've noticed a change in how many of my friends (followers, followed?) are using Twitter. They are using it to share information, send links, talk about conferences or meetings they are attending (live in real-time too - very cool) and generally using it for lots more than just a "What are you doing?" tool.

Twitter has become a microblogging tool - a way to blog in 140 characters or less - now for those who know me, and for those who read my posts you know that getting me to say anything coherent in 140 characters or less is a herculean task :-). I'm like Blaise Pascal (or Mark Twain, or T.S. Eliot - someone said it...) - "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter". I was never one of those students who EVER had to worry about not hitting the word count on an essay assignment, and talking for 30 minutes is easy - it's the 5 minute speech that takes so much time.

For me that is the conundrum of Twitter and Blogging. It's easy for me to answer the "What are you doing?" question within the 140 character limit, but how do I say anything meaningful? That is a skill that I need to learn and to follow the example of several of my friends and colleagues who do an amazing job of saying meaningful things and sharing great stuff (stuff is the universal technical term) with Twitter.

I really like the real-time "live" nature of Twitter. When I attend conferences I blog the days events - keynotes, sessions I attend, things I did or noticed - it's my way of absorbing the day and reflecting on it (and a great way to share the experience too). With Twitter I can do that as it happens - now that is so cool - I just need to develop some concision (yes it is a word :-)).

The other piece that has made Twitter more relevant to me as an information sharing and discussion tool is the technology I'm now using. I've gone from a simple digital text-based SMS cell phone to an iPhone using an application called Twittelator Pro that gives me an easy way to "tweet" no matter where I am. With these tools I can connect live from anywhere. I'm off to a couple of conferences this Spring (one as a co-presenter - CNIE), and I plan on tweeting from both theoughout the day, and then blogging each evening on the day's events - to me the perfect combination of tools...

So is this the end of blogging as I know it? I don't think so - I will still write scads on things that make me go Hmmm... I will never be able to do that to my satisfaction in 140 characters or less. I still have the need to be wordy and verbose (sorry it's in my nature), but I see Twitter as a valuable addition to my tool set of information gathering and sharing and I can tell you that from now on when I tweet (yes I am a Twit :-)), it will be more than answering "what are you doing"? With Twitter I will be able to find and share information in real-time - then I can use my blog to expand upon (and dare I say pontificate) on those subjects that still make me go Hmmm... in more than 140 characters...

(Images - Twitter logo from and Blogger logo from